Fewer than 10 of the 54 Commonwealth member countries—which include the U.K., Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Belize, Nigeria, Jamaica, Fiji, Kenya, The Bahamas and others—have legislation that recognizes, prevents and punishes hate crimes against marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ community. That’s according to The Human Dignity Trust and The Good Side, an insights and ideas company in London, which together released two documentaries to expose the archaic colonial-era British laws that are still in place that are “undermining human rights, perpetuating violence and discrimination towards LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized people across the Commonwealth,” the companies say.
The short films—“The Sky Will Not Fall” and “A Wake-Up Call”—are funded by the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office and serve as a call to action to Commonwealth lawmakers to “urgently” reform discriminatory laws and enact new ones to protect individuals from hate crimes, whether related to sexual orientation, race, religion or disability. Filmmakers from The Good Side traveled to Belize, India, Kenya, Seychelles and Singapore to document first-hand stories of the abuse survivors have endured due to a lack of protective laws in place. Watch “The Sky Will Not Fall” (below), that details how the criminalization of homosexuality and legal marital rape in Commonwealth countries have left “a legacy of hatred towards LGBTQ+ people, injustice for women and girls, and discrimination against people living with disability,” the companies say.
“What we're fighting against actually is a law that we did not create, it is a law that we had no say in,” says Gigi Louisa, LGBTQ activist at the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya. "It's a law that was brought to us by the coloniser and given to us.”